Teddy is a talented athlete and the captain of the tennis team at his college. He’s pretty happy with his life. Sure, there are some issues with other teammates in the locker room, but all in all, things are going well. Teddy’s always considered himself to be straight, until he meets Isaac.
Isaac can only be described as “sassy.” He’s a fashion forward, in your face gay man who likes to flirt with all the guys. He’s in an open relationship with his boyfriend and there is one rule: they tell each other the complete truth and if they’re going to be with someone else, it’s only for one time. That means they will never see/sleep with the other person again. It’s always worked for them, and even though Isaac swears he’d never break the rule, he figures it’s perfectly alright to keep flirting with (and maybe messing a little with the head of) Teddy.
Rick isn’t a student. He works clearing and maintaining trails in the state parks in the area. He loves Isaac with all his heart and has been spending days on the mountain building a cabin as a gift to him. He’s never broken their open relationship rule, always believing Isaac is his person. Then, Isaac introduces him to Teddy. Now, Rick begins to look at his world a little differently.
I love menage stories, so I happily grabbed Failing Straight. I was excited to dive in. Unfortunately, I find myself somewhat disappointed with the story. I felt no connection to any of the characters, and I also didn’t feel Teddy, Isaac, and Rick as a loving “throuple.” I have absolutely no problem with open relationships, so that situation isn’t bothersome to me. I simply couldn’t really make myself care whether the three of them could work out their issues and live happily ever after.
Teddy is a confused boy. I can’t say “man.” He seems so young and lost. Still, he’s top man on the tennis team and I do find that to be interesting. While he’s on the court, he feels confident. I also find it interesting that his best friend, Tiff, is his former girlfriend. Their dynamic is a good one, though. He can trust her, and she’s there for him, even when he becomes confused. Actually, I find the relationship between Teddy and Tiff to be the most concrete and believable one in the whole book. I am able to understand Teddy’s confusion. The author has nicely written his feelings. He begins having feelings about Isaac nearly right away, even though he’s never really given any thought he might be gay, or at least bisexual.
Next comes Isaac. I just cannot make myself like him…at all. As I mentioned, I have no problem with open relationships. They’re real and they work when the couple communicates with each other and there are set rules. Isaac is a self-professed “slut” and considers himself a bit of a playboy. He spends an awful lot of time playing with the heads of other men, especially straight men. Something about that feels wrong. Not because he sleeps with other men, but because it seems almost cruel to me to see him play with their heads, make them question their sexuality, seduce them, and then drop them. What bothers me the most is how he finally gets what he wants with Teddy (sort of) and feels a little disappointed. Rather than move on, Isaac decides the way around the rule is to convince Rick they need to have a threesome. He focuses on his scheme a lot. It made me feel squicky and a little uncomfortable.
Rick is the only character I felt comfortable with. His love of the outdoors is convincing, and his devotion to Isaac is admirable and feels real. He’s a man of few words, but he’s got a big heart. I really love how he was building that cabin for Isaac…and keeping it a surprise. That is so very sweet, but I found myself questioning whether Isaac deserves that kind of love, and I wanted to reach through the Kindle and hug Rick. I felt like, originally, he’s reluctant to actually participate in Isaac’s menage idea, but once it happened, he doesn’t regret it.
The book is told from all three men’s POVs. Sometimes, I have a tough time with that, but here, it’s fine. The chapters were clearly marked and I don’t see any slips into third person, or going into the headspace of another character. The story feels a little clunky at times, but bounces back each time. It doesn’t seem to take itself too seriously, if that make sense. With all these intense situations, it’s not bogged down with angst. There is a bit of humor, and a few triumphant scenes that are good enough to make me cheer.
The ending wraps up as expected…happily. I like the fact that it ends from Rick’s POV. It’s sweet and warm, and he’s as generous as always. It left me with a feeling of hope for the men. I see this is part of a series, but the story is a standalone. You don’t need to read the first book to know anything about Failing Straight. While I am left feeling a disconnect and a little disappointed, I am going to cautiously recommend this book. I think some fans of menage will enjoy it. I will probably seek out other titles from this author and check them out.